Last-minute men win

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Maybe Dapper Dan Lepine had the right idea.

Call up a bunch of guys you've never curled with before. Finalize the newly forged foursome about an hour before entry deadline.

Then, register for the Last Chance Spiel with five minutes to spare.

Make sure you qualify for the northerns out of C, so the team can toss enough bricks as a warm-up. And, oh, yeah, make sure you drop your first two starts.

Simple, eh? It's a wonder nobody's ever used that formula before.

"I'm basically just a club curler," said Lepine, an Edmonton Super League regular who curtailed his activity this season after the birth of his daughter Sydney. "This is the first time we've played together all year."

Lepine beat Shane Park 7-5 in an extra end for his second straight and second career trip to the northerns - four days after the team was put together.

While life was a breeze for Dapper Dan's crew, it was a different story one sheet over.

Ask any one of Jamie King's crew to describe their road to the northerns and they'll tell you it felt like going 12 rounds with Mike Tyson.

They felt frustrated, finally getting off the canvas to score a 7-2 win over unheralded Don Bridgewater.

"Like I was telling the guys, it felt like we just won the Brier," said King, skip of the team that lost two of the last three provincial finals to Randy Ferbey. "It's a big weight off our shoulders, that's for sure."

RETURN TRIP TO PROVINCIALS?

After beating Dean Davidson in the semifinal, King stands alone as the only northern Alberta team with a chance for a return trip to the provincials.

"We don't know what's going to happen next weekend, but at least we gave ourselves a chance," said King, whose team nailed down the spot in their 12th start this playdowns season.

With a 7-5 record, they're nowhere near the team that ripped its way through all comers in 2005.

UNFORTUNATE A FEW TIMES

That's in contrast to last year, when the team's second playdowns loss was in the provincial final to Ferbey."We knew we were playing well," said last-rock thrower Blake MacDonald. "We just got unfortunate a couple of times."

At the midway point of yesterday's game, the situation was looking bleak for King.

Bridgewater was up 2-1 with hammer - when he lost his draw weight.

That gave King steals of three in six, another in seven and two more in eight.

"The first half of the game is how the whole year's kinda gone," said MacDonald.

"They made everything. We were an inch away from making a million shots.

"You know, the second part of the game was kinda how we've played in the last little while.

"I wouldn't take the front page out on it yet, but we're going in the right direction."

Although MacDonald took the game as a good omen, it definitely was a wacky way to win.

"Strange how you can win a game and have hammer for only one end," said King.

Count second Wade Johnstone among the guys who's happy it's all done.

Johstone hasn't swept this hard since he was at home and his wife Atina was in hospital delivering the couple's daughter.

"We knew, win or lose, we were done curling for the weekend," said Johnstone, whose sweeping muscles got a good workout.

Only four more sleeps, Wade.


Videos

Photos